Minrui Yang

Rediscovery of Landscape through Shanshui

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“Painting does not invent a purely imaginary world of its own, nor does it duplicate the “real” world, by referring to it and representing it; rather, it constitutes itself nearby as a landscape to be lived.”
— Francois Jullien

My project has been a process of seeing my surrounding landscape and environment filtered through the aesthetic lens of Chinese Shanshui painting. It involves the rediscovery and understanding of my Chinese cultural heritage, largely informed through the practice of calligraphy and recognising the Taoist notions of ‘presence and absence’ in painting.

I have also been exploring the transformative nature of space, and how we make sense of the living environment we are most familiar with through our perceptions. I am interested in how our memories of space are often distorted and fragmented, and how we do not have full access to the landscape around us, such as the view from above or spaces which are partly hidden from sight.

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My painting has adopted the long panel aesthetics of the traditional handscroll, which are usually viewed from the right end, allowing for the viewer to enter into the world of the painting and journey section by section. This way of depiction has also affected the making of my ceramic and video works which combine a sense of continuity, yet are concurrently portrayed in fragmented or warped imagery.

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My research was inaugurated by revisiting the paintings of the Song Dynasty and withdrawing the idea of living in the landscape within a painting, which was emphasised in Françoise Jullien’s book: 'The Great Image Has No Form, or On the Non-object through painting'.

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My recreation of the Game of Go is a fusion between the map of auckland and the original board game itself, which involves the intensity of being and living in two completely different worlds. This is the result of the hybridity and collision of the Western and Chinese culture which have shaped my identity growing up; it involves the procedure of being aware of and accepting the effects of these different ways of thinking. Additionally, this has inspired me to acknowledge myself as both visitor, and inhabitant of this colonised land, while embracing my own lack of knowledge and non-mastery across mediums relating to the many traditional Chinese arts.

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